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Nov 8, 2:42 PM EST

New plaza in DC marks origin of cherry blossoms


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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A 360-year-old Japanese stone lantern that sits among Washington's cherry blossom trees now has a more prominent place on the National Mall.

The nonprofit Trust for the National Mall and Japan's ambassador are unveiling a new granite plaza for the lantern Friday along the Tidal Basin. The $400,000 project began in April.

The centuries-old stone lantern sits among the original cherry trees that were a gift from Japan 101 years ago. The lantern and original trees are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remain a symbol of friendship between the United States and Japan.

The new plaza features natural stone boulders and a memorial plaque commemorating the 1912 gift of cherry trees.

The Japanese government sponsored the project with the Japan Commerce Association of Washington.

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